RNG Helping Trucking Companies Improve Air Quality for California Ports

Six trucking firms operating in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., are deploying trucks powered by Cummins Westport (CWI) near-zero ISX12N engines and fueled with Clean Energy Fuels Corp.’s Redeem renewable natural gas (RNG) in an effort to reduce emissions and improve air quality in the ports and surrounding communities.

According to Clean Energy, the project’s goal is to expand this alt-fuel technology in the port drayage industry. It aims to inspire greater interest in near-zero RNG trucks, particularly with the incentive funding that California is providing to help truckers transition. Near-zero trucks are also one of the strategies for reducing emissions from trucks under the ports’ recent update to their Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), notes Clean Energy.

“The realization by trucking companies that they need to do something to meet the upcoming and anticipated stricter emissions requirements in California is beginning to settle in,” says Greg Roche, Clean Energy’s vice president of sustainable trucking. “Fortunately, there are many ways to take advantage of grants and other resources to make the transition to the new engine technology and clean RNG virtually painless. We applaud these first-movers in being leaders in doing their part to make the air we all breathe cleaner.”

The California Energy Commission (CEC) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District provided funding for 20 near-zero Class 8 trucks. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach provided funding for two additional trucks. The first four trucks have been successfully operating since mid-2017, and an additional four have been operating since February of this year.

“The California Energy Commission is pleased to have supported the deployment of near-zero emissions trucks powered by Cummins Westport’s advanced engines with our partners, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Clean Energy,” says Janea A. Scott, CEC commissioner. “Demonstration projects, like those being carried out by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, help show there are viable cleaner, more sustainable freight technologies available today and highlight the role these technologies can play as the state transitions to zero- and near-zero-emission technologies to help achieve federal air quality standards and the state’s greenhouse gas goals.”

Project participants include Total Transportation Services Inc. (TTSI), 4Gen Logistics, Orange Avenue Express, CR&R and Pacific 9 Transportation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board (CARB) certified the engines in December 2017 at CARB’s optional low-NOx standard of 0.02 g-NOx/bhp-hr, 90% lower NOx emissions than the current EPA NOx standard. In fact, the new engines were tested as low as 0.01 g-NOx/bhp-hr, achieving virtually zero tailpipe emissions, notes Clean Energy. Factory production of ISX12N engines began in February, and they are soon expected to be powering many more trucks on California roads.

“TTSI has now been testing the new CWI natural gas engines since last year and have found that they work terrifically,” comments Vic LaRosa, president of TTSI. “We have run the trucks hard – in and out of the ports for long hours in all kinds of conditions – and have had no issues. TTSI is committed to going above and beyond what we can towards a more sustainable future, and transitioning to renewable natural gas has made it easy.”

All these trucks will be fueling at Clean Energy’s network of California stations with Redeem fuel, which reduces greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 70% versus diesel, the company claims.

Pacific 9 Transportation will soon deploy 20 other RNG-powered trucks, in addition to their grant-funded ultra low-NOx trucks.

The ports enacted the latest version of their CAAP in November 2017, adopting far-reaching strategies to further reduce air emissions and support California’s vision for more sustainable freight movement. Part of the CAAP could dramatically change the makeup of the 16,000 heavy-duty trucks that move in and out of the ports, says Clean Energy. The CAAP envisions transitioning the current fleet of port trucks to clean trucks through a new set of provisions that will begin to be implemented this year.

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